Mini has started manufacturing its next-generation Cooper electric hatchback in China ahead of a local launch in the third quarter of 2024.
Chinese media reports mass production of the electric hatch commenced on October 14 at the Spotlight Automotive plant in Zhangjiagang, China.
The Mini Cooper electric vehicle (EV) is underpinned by a new electric car platform dubbed Spotlight EV, the result of a joint venture between BMW and Great Wall Motor (GWM).
The unrelated combustion-powered Mini Cooper will continue to be built in Oxford in the UK. An updated version of that car is expected to launch in 2024.
Oxford will also begin producing the new electric hatch starting from 2026.
The Cooper Electric reportedly has a wider track, shorter front overhang, larger wheels and longer wheelbase than the current three-door Mini Hatch, though it will remain 3.8 metres long.
Mini says the new electric hatchback has a “predicted range between 300 and 400 kilometres”, although the global boss of Mini, Stefanie Wurst, said the new model will offer a range in excess of 400km.
“Our customers don’t have a problem with 200km, we are still selling the current Mini Electric,” Ms Wurst told CarExpert earlier this year.
“I think for an urban use case it’s probably enough but of course, we know that is not the future and I think that starting from 400km, the range anxiety is not a topic anymore.
“People would treat it the same way as they would treat a combustion engine and if you need less than half an hour for 80 percent battery charging, it’s a really good range.”
The entry-level E will offer a 40kWh battery pack and a 135kW/290Nm electric motor, whereas the SE will receive a larger 54kWh unit and a 160kW/330Nm electric motor. The E can complete the 0-100km/h sprint in a claimed 7.3 seconds, while the SE can complete the sprint in a claimed 6.7 seconds.
Inside, the new Mini features a round OLED display on the dashboard running what the brand is calling OS 9.
In a nod to the brand’s roots, you’re able to have an oversized digital speedometer and rev counter there, and you can use the screen to control media, climate, and the car’s main functions.
As is the case in related BMW products, you’re able to talk to the car using “Hey Mini” voice commands to control major functions on the move.
There’s a row of toggle switches lower down on the dashboard, as is the case in current models, but climate control settings are adjusted through the touchscreen. The transmission selector has been moved to free up more storage space between the seats.
New ambient lighting, dashboard trim finishes, and materials feature throughout to bring Mini’s design language into a new era. There’s also a head-up display in front of the driver.
BMW and GWM each have a 50 per cent stake in Spotlight Automotive, which was established to accelerate Mini’s electrification strategy.
The Spotlight Automotive factory reportedly has a production capacity of 160,000 cars per year and will build the electric Aceman crossover in addition to the Cooper hatch.